SPECIAL REPORT: Mexico Beach on the road to recover two years after Hurricane Michael

Mexico Beach

MEXICO BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Many people who went through Hurricane Michael know exactly where they were when the storm hit. The hardest-hit area was Mexico Beach.

Those who lived through it share that they lost a lot but that their town is headed in the right direction.

They aren’t as abundant as they were right after it happened, but there are still reminders of the destruction Hurricane Michael caused in Mexico Beach.

“I thought in an after fact, I started to think, ‘My goodness, how will we ever build back? What will it take? How much stamina does this little city have?'” said Mexico Beach Mayor Al Cathey.

The process has been slow.

READ MORE: Paradise in limbo: rebuilding in Mexico Beach is slow due to economic stalemate

“It took me almost a year to get my house rebuilt, still livable the whole time but a year to get everything finished on it. As far as the business, I had to come up with a way to fastly get back together. At the same time deal with the cleanup, the building restrictions, and all of the other new construction requirements that were going to be put upon us. So the fastest and easiest way for me to get back in was to invest in this food trailer,” said Killer Seafood Restaurant Owner Michael Scoggins.

But there are a lot of signs that the recovery is well underway. Buildings that could be salvaged are repaired or under construction, and workers are building a number of new businesses.

“Every day gets better, it looks better every day. We’re getting our bank, our bank just opened back up. We have a gas station coming, just little things like that, and us being open (their restaurant) has been really good for the community too,”  said long-time Mexico Beach resident and Killer Seafood General Manager, Hal Summers.

“The realty company right down the street is soon to be open. The Shell Shack is soon to be open, the ACE Hardware is building a new building and will soon be open, the El Governor and their campground is within just a couple weeks for the campground, and the motel is coming out of the ground,” Mayor Cathey said.

Those realtors should be busy. There is an abundance of vacant lots. Block after block of parcels, where beach homes used to stand.

“I think this year, there’s a lot more hope. There’s a lot more seeing that things, and knowing that this time next year, we will have a gas station, we will have the el governor back open, we will have that tourist business coming back, hopefully, some more restaurants too,” Summers said.

“You know we all said two years ago, we’re coming back, we held hands and we prayed and we laughed and we cried and said we will get this back.  Well it’s obvious, yeah it’s two years later, but there are positive steps being made.” Mayor Cathey said.

While there are many positive steps being made for Mexico Beach, many of its natives say there is still a long road ahead.

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